nuncupative  \NUN-kyoo-pay-tiv\  adjective

: spoken rather than written
: oral

On his deathbed Jacob made a nuncupative will for his son and daughter.
“He left me a small Legacy in a nuncupative Will, as a Token of his Kindness for me.” — From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)


“Nuncupative” (from Latin “nuncupare,” meaning “to name”) has been part of the English language since at least the mid-16th century, most typically appearing in legal contexts as a modifier of the noun “will.” The nuncupative will originated in Roman law, where it consisted of an oral declaration made in the presence of seven witnesses and later presented before a magistrate. Currently, nuncupative wills are allowed in some U.S. states in extreme circumstances, such as imminent peril of death from a terminal illness or from military or maritime service. Such wills are dictated orally but are usually required to be set down in writing within a statutorily specified time period, such as 30 days. Witnesses are required, though the number seven is no longer specified.

Entry in Webster's Dictionary


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